Abuja — Barring any hitch, President Muhammadu Buhari will present the 2020 Appropriation bill to the National Assembly by month-end.
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, gave the indication in a statement issued Wednesday by her media aide, Mr. Yunusa Abdullahi.
Speaking at a high-level national donor coordination roundtable in Abuja, recently, Ahmed said: "The 2020 budget preparation process is well underway, and we intend to finalise and submit the 2020 appropriation bill to the National Assembly by the end of this month. As a first step towards ensuring that your donor programmes are aligned with our strategic priorities, and are in turn reflected in our upcoming national budget, we will hold meetings in the next few days to better understand your ongoing and planned programmes.
" Following this consultative meeting, a set of guidelines will be provided to support submission of your costed short to medium term plans, broken down annually. This process will ensure that we consider on-going and planned aid interventions when making our 2020 budgetary allocations, and that said interventions are reflected in the Appropriation Bill."
The minister also used the opportunity of the roundtable to highlight the present administration's 11 economic priority areas.
On economy and governance reforms, she alluded to macroeconomic stability through coordinated economic, monetary, fiscal and trade policies; fighing corruption and improving governance.
On enhanced investments in physical infrastructure, human capital development to spur job creation and economic growth, Ahmed outlined improve health, education and productivity of Nigerians; ensuring energy sufficiency with power; ensuring energy sufficiency with petroleum products; improving transportation and other infrastructure, and driving industrialisation, focusing on macro, small and medium-sized enterprises.
She disclosed that the federal government is to set up a Donor Coordination Unit (DCU) to be chaired by her.
The DCU will be saddled with the task of developing a road map towards setting up a Multi-donor trust fund, to be managed by the World Bank, which will pool donor funds to enhance transparency and accountability.
According to her, the need for a government-driven national donor coordination mechanism cannot be overemphasised, adding that a well-structured approach was key to ensuring that external financing is maximised and of benefit to Nigerians.
She said: "As we proceed, I would like to share a call to action that we all work together to put in place a National Donor Coordination mechanism that is aligned to government's key strategic priority areas as set out in our national plans, policies and annual budgets. While government-led, this process must be collaborative in order to succeed."
To give effect to this direction, Ahmed said: "We will be engaging towards setting up a Donor Coordination Unit (DCU) to be chaired by the Honourable Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, and co-chaired by the Honourable Minister of State, Budget and National Planning, and the chair(s) of the Donors Coordination Committee.
"We will task the DCU to develop a road map towards setting up a multi-donor trust fund, to be managed by the World Bank, which will pool donor funds to enhance transparency and accountability."
"Aid is most effective when it is well-coordinated, with mutual accountability mechanisms for government and donors. Above all else, it must be aligned with government's strategic development priorities.
"While we have made some progress in coordinating aid in specific areas, such as in the North East intervention, and the Social Investment Programmes , we still have a long way to go in ensuring a government-led mutual accountability framework for aid coordination in Nigeria", she stated.
Highlighting the need for the success of the initiative, she said that several key criteria to ensure its success include a government-owned and driven aid management process; the establishment of a mutual accountability framework to ensure effective management of aid programmes/projects and resources, and information sharing; the ability to map donor interventions and ensure appropriate coverage across sectors, with an emphasis on sectors that are critical to achieving Nigeria's key development priorities; proper linkages and harmonisation among development partners.
Others are adequate and timely sharing of information on Official Development Assistance (ODA) in-flows; consistent, timely and accurate reporting of activities and financing on the Development Assistance Database (DAD); the need for a strong monitoring and evaluation mechanism to track the amount and use of donor funds and ensure that such funds are benefiting Nigerians.
Speaking on development cooperation as a means of catalysing government's interventions towards achieving its priority areas, she said: "What is needed now more than ever in Nigeria is an innovative approach to external financing, which is government-led, and emphasizes the innovative use of aid to support and catalyze government programmes and interventions in strategic areas.
"This is especially critical, as we work towards developing and implementing the next generation of National Economic Plans, the successor to the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP). We will work towards implementing policies and programmes in line with the present administration's economic priority areas."
The donor coordination roundtable was attended by the Ambassadors of Japan, Denmark and Norway represented by the Charge D'Affairs, and Korea which was represented by the Country Director, KOICA.
The US Ambassador was represented by the Charge D'Affairs.
Also at the meeting were the UN Resident Coordinator who was represented by the Resident Representative, UNDP, AFDB Country Director, IMF Mission Chief, World Bank Country Director, UNICEF Country Representative, WFP Country Representative, EU Head of Cooperation, Acting Head of DFID who also represented the UK Government, Head of Delegation ICRC, Country Director, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Chief Representative of JICA.